Sunday, March 27, 2016

Test Prep & Testing Season - Before, During, and After

That dreaded time of the year has arrived……standardized testing. #yuck #aintnobodygottimefortesting.  In Florida, standardized testing is high stakes. Teachers are evaluated on test scores and students are promoted or retained in certain grades based on their test scores.  I call that HIGH STAKES. However, testing time is here and there is nothing we can do about it or is there?

Third grade starts testing Tuesday, March 29th, which is immediately after Spring Break. We have ONE day to get our students back in the school mindset and then we begin testing.  This created kind of a problem for the much needed pre-testing review week.  Basically, they are spending it on Spring Break.  So, creative teachers had to get to work on how to best spend our review time and when to do it.

  Here's what I did.  I concentrated our review in reading because third graders have to pass this test to be promoted to 4th grade.  My grade level team identified 6 standards that we felt our third graders were struggling with and we planned our review activities to include mini-lessons and literacy centers for practice and remediation.  Now, I know that my kiddos are a little burnt out right now, so I added a little fun and competition to keep their engagement up.  We used my Test Prep & Team Building Super Hero Themed resource available here.

I divided my class into 5 teams: ZAP, KAPOW, BOOM, BAM, AND ZONK. I gave them cool little team nametags, a team sign of their group, and an extremely visible tally chart to keep track of tickets earned. Each day, I gave out tickets for super hero engagement during all review activities.  At midday, I would count up tickets so they knew what team was ahead and inspire that Super Hero attitude for the rest of the day.  Then at the end of the day, I awarded the winning team with a surprise usually, Smarties, Sweethearts, or something like that. #smallinvestment You would not believe how excited and competitive they got!  This kind of short term fun really bonded them as a team and inspired each of them to encourage and help each other. Not only that, they got valuable spiral review. On Thursday, we did a FSA practice test for reading and math. After scoring those, I knew what I needed to do prior to the actual test days.
So, what will I do when the actual testing week arrives?  Keep reading……

My plan for this week is simple: relaxed spiral review before and after testing.  Here’s the schedule:

  • Review testing procedures & ease anxiety
  • Review good reading test practices rereading for understanding, finding text evidence, looking for clue words
  • Literacy Centers for spiral review
  • Math small groups to remediate areas found on practice test
  • Math Centers Fractions here, Multiplication hereMultiplication Properties here, Elapsed Time here

  • Goody Bag on student's desk when they arrive. I requested Notes of Encouragement from families for students to read the first morning of testing.

  • Reading Test Day One - 80 minutes
  • Snacks & Go Noodle after testing
  • Reminders for good reading test practices rereading for understanding, finding text evidence, looking for clue words
  • Math small groups to remediate areas found on practice test
  • Math Centers continue centers and add area/perimeter and geometry

  • Reading Test Day Two - 80 minutes
  • Snacks & Go Noodle after testing
  • Review testing procedures for math and reminders attend to precision and show your work!
  • Math small groups to remediate areas found on practice test
  • Math Games keeping it fun and relaxed!

  • Math Test Day One - 80 minutes
  • Snacks & Go Noodle after testing
  • Read your favorite book/Teacher Read Aloud
  • Math Games keeping it fun and relaxed!
  • Science - Start our Plants Unit

  • Math Test Day Two- the last 80 minutes! (almost finished!)
  • Snacks & Go Noodle after testing

Happy Dance WE ARE DONE!!!

There you are we will have survived it and so will you! And now we enjoy the best part of the school year! Enrichment, projects, lots of independent reading, and fun!

What is your before, during, and after of testing season?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hello March!

It's March! Guess what that means?

Read Across America is tomorrow! Dr. Seuss fun all day long - costumes, read alouds, special treats, and FUN! Can't wait to see all my kiddos dressed up!


St. Patrick's Day! - Green and more green - "Luck of the Irish" (I happen to be a bit Irish!) Rules about "no pinching" if you aren't wearing green - lol! Pretty hard when you have school uniforms that are navy and garnet - no green allowed.


3rd Grade Field Trip! We are returning to the scene of last year's field trip which was amazing! It's called Cracker Country and it's a little village that takes you back in time. The students learn about how people lived 100+ years ago complete with a trip to a general store - which they love - to making a rope - which we use at recess. The best thing is that it's scheduled for the day before Spring Break, which leads me to....


SPRING BREAK! Are there any two words that sound better right now? NOOOOOOO!!!! January to March is the longest part of the school year. In Florida, we are preparing our students for state testing that will happen the week we return from Spring Break - can you believe that? The timing isn't good, but it's still SPRING BREAK!!!

So, those are the March goodies I am looking forward to - how about you? What does March bring in your life?


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